After three hours of public comment, at 1 a.m. Johnson City Commission passes second reading on proposed methadone clinic

Danny Sells of Citizens to Maintain Gray speaking at the podium Thursday night (WJHL)
Danny Sells of Citizens to Maintain Gray speaking at the podium Thursday night (WJHL)

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL)- Thursday after seven hours in a Johnson City Commission meeting, commissioners voted “yes” at 1 a.m in their second reading to rezone land to allow a methadone clinic to locate in Gray.

That vote came after more than 20 people spoke against the clinic. City and Mountain States leaders spoke for about two hours, then public comment opened at 10 p.m., with no time limit for each person.

“I simply wanted to give everybody the right to speak which we did and we did a good job with that. My simple statement was that I will support this in Gray, Johnson City, wherever, because I understand the need, I believe in what ETSU wants to do, I believe in what Mountain States wants to do and they want to get people on the road to recovery,” Johnson City Mayor Clayton Stout said.


Thursday:

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – Washington County residents packed the Johnson City Commission meeting Thursday night for the chance to voice their opinion on a proposed methadone clinic in Gray, TN.

Johnson City Commissioners voted “yes” to move forward in their second reading on a rezoning request for the proposed clinic. Vice Mayor David Tomita was the only “no” vote.

Some members of the group “Citizens to Maintain Gray” left the hearing visibly upset after the commission spent nearly four and a half hours listening to public comment.

Over 20 people presented their arguments on why Gray isn’t the right community for this clinic but the commission voted to move forward.

Organizer, Danny Sells said it’s a huge disappointment but they are not giving up.

“The action tonight has driven a wedge between Johnson City and Gray It’s going to be a continuing fight in Gray for Gray to be the community we want it to be and that’s why we as the citizens to maintain gray are going to assemble ourselves in a more formal fashion as a non profit in the state of Tennessee because it’s apparent we are going to have to continue to wage efforts,” Sells said.

After the initial discussion started around 8 p.m., News Channel 11’s Justin Soto reported that around 10 p.m. no citizens on a list to voice their concerns Thursday night had been given their chance to speak yet.

Just after 10:15 p.m., Danny Sells, with Citizens to Maintain Gray – a more than 200 member group wanting to keep a methadone clinic out of Gray – approached the podium to speak to commissioners.

Before the public comment period, commissioners heard from Mountain State Health Alliance CEO Alan Levine who reiterated how important the clinic would be to the Tri-Cities with the epidemic the region is facing.

Johnson City Police Chief Mark Sirois also spoke at the commission meeting where he presented crime rates at a clinic in Knoxville to give commissioners a better idea of the low crime rates other clinic in the state experience. He also compared this proposed clinic to a clinic in Buncombe County, NC and Paris, TN.

The group has an appeal that’s going through the Secretary of State’s office in Nashville. The third and final reading is set for Thursday Oct. 6.

Also at the meeting the commission approved in first reading a zoning ordinance to delete Article 6.34, UCO (Urban Commercial Overlay) and replace it with a new WWD (West Walnut Street District).

The commission denied a resolution in second reading for an ordinance to assign zoning of a B-4 (Planned Arterial Business) and CO (Corridor Overlay) to two-(2) properties that together are known as the Bank of TN-Gray Annexation. This will not move forward.
Follow Justin’s Tweets from the meeting below:

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